Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Multiplicity of Patches

In the past few years I have become fascinated with quilts. The heritage of of quilt-making in our nation is rich. Before scrapbooking, stamping, and other popular craft hobbies of today, there was quilting, sewing, needlepoint, knitting, and so on. Initially these "hobbies" were necessary diversions, not just a creative outlet. Women of past generations clothed their families and decorated their homes through these "hobbies"--there was no Pottery Barn, Target, or Pier 1 (ouch!)

I am not saying that I wish to go back to those days, but I do long for a greater connection to simplicity of life of that era-not that is was easy at all, just less cluttered. I love to look in antique shops at old quilts and marvel at the creativity that is displayed. Many are patchwork quilts made from pieces of fabric left over from a multitude of other projects, artfully put together to make something not only useful, but beautiful.

I took a quilt class about a year and a half ago--this was quite an experience for someone who had NEVER sewed in her life. I learned so much and was pleased with the baby quilt that I was able to make for my niece. What I probably enjoyed the most was getting to know other ladies in the class and the ladies who worked at the quilt shop. I was the "young 'un" of the group. It made me think of how women used to get together for quilting bees--what a time of fellowship, a place for women of all ages to connect. Although we have ladies' groups in churches and communities, it seems we have lost the need to depend on one another like they seemed to years ago. We are more isolated. I think maybe that is why so many of us enjoy blogging--a way to connect. This is a God-given, built-in desire for us. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.


Some great children's books on quilting are Rag Coat by Lauren Mills and The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons.


I also love the stories that many quilts tell and the metaphors that can be derived from quilting. One of my favorite movies, How to Make an American Quilt based on the book by Whitney Otto, interweaves the story of a group of friends and their lives as they make a wedding quilt together. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

Young lovers seek perfection. Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches.
Isn't that so true? When we are young, we seek perfection in everything, most often for prideful reasons. As we get older, we learn to be content with where we are in life. I am not saying that we shouldn't strive for excellence, but we should also see the beauty in where God has placed us. I once read, "Contentment is destroyed by comparison." I desire to be satisfied with what God has given me and see the beauty in a "multiplicity of patches."


Jennifer said...

I enjoyed this post, sometimes I think we do miss out on that community belonging of years gone by.
I think you are right, that blogging is a way for some of us to connect in a way that life nowadays does not have a place for.

thanks for the book suggestions, I will go look for them. I would also add "the Josephina story quilt" to the list, it is a cute story for beginner readers.

thanks for sharing,
Jenny in Ca

Jane said...

Loved this post, you have beautifully woven together the themes of friendship, simplicity, connection and contentment. Thanks.

Dianne said...

My mom's big time into quilting. Perhaps because of some of the reasons you mention here. This is a beautiful post.

Deidre said...

I love your words. Yes, we all need some way to connect with others. Blogging has been a tremendous outlet for me.

I'm so impressed you took a quilting class without knowing how to sew. I signed up for a sewing class a few years ago, and then couldn't understand why the teacher asked if I had a sewing machine. Seriously, I thought, what do I need that for?? I thought it was all by hand. :) I, too, have never learned how to sew, but want so desperately to.

Susie said...

Great post Kelly! My husband's grandmother has made so many quilts over the years, and it really is a creative artform. She usually quilted with her sisters or alone. I completely agree with you about the whole blogging community thing. I do have my seperate friends and bible studies that I am apart of, but I also enjoy being apart of a group that is a cross section of ages, denominations and backgrounds. The women I've met have truly become treasures to me.

janiswrites said...

Connecting with others is one way that God can help you learn more about yourself. It is also a way for God to show His love to you through them. Although many times I would rather stay in my little world at home, I do enjoy spending that time with my Bible study friends and they encourage me to grow and change in good ways. I love quilts as well. I have one that my grandmother made me when I got married and I have a few quilt tops that she made before she passed away. I am going to have to learn how to quilt them so that I can share them with my own children. Love your post! Blessings!

gail said...

Enjoyed this post Kelly. I love quilts but have not ever made one. I can sew but quilting is something I would like to know how to do but just haven't taken a class.
I hope to find the book and movie you mentioned, that sounds good!

Sara said...

I love quilts too...old ones that were made with all those tiny stiches! Love that picture!

Cyndi said...

Oh, how I enjoyed this post! I have some wonderful family quilts that have been passed down to me and we still use them. My mom told me that they are out of the fabric that was scraps from my grandmother's and her sister's dresses from when my mom was growing up. I love looking at all of the vibrant colors, because all of the pictures of these wonderful women are in black and white! I've always treasured those quilts.

Something fun that a music teacher used to do at my school, and what I did with my kids when they were young was listen to beautiful music, laying on a quilt. She called it "Q.U.I.L.T." for Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time. Isn't that a fun idea? :)

Kim said...

Kelly--I love your blog,but this has to be one of your best posts...I really enjoyed it greatly and it warmed my heart as I read it.

I agree so much with the statement"our contentment is destroyed by comparison"...this is so true,but I really do not want it to be true of me. My husband often reminds me in his wisdom,"Kim,it is not a contest" that is so very true!!!May I remember what I already know!!!!

I am one fellow mom who can not sew!!! My oldest daughter can and both of my older ones have learned to crochet and knit,which I love....I love all these *hobbies*...women were busy with their hands making things for those they love...what a beautiful act of service. I wish I had learned more of these kinds of thing when I was growing up.

Quilts are beautiful and I do think each one tells a Cyndi mentioned...the squares were from old dresses from her granmother! How wonderful! That is a treasure!

Great post,Kelly...I appreciate your words!


Lisa said...

A beautiful post...

I actually quilted once, years and years ago, as a young girl. My grandmother had died and left as part of her legacy several quilts and quilt tops. My mother and I together quilted one of her quilt tops to go in my room. Okay, so I only did a few stitches, mostly it was my mom. I have it in my possession now, as well as a few other very old family heirlooms, as it were.

Thanks for the reminder to be satisfied here today in this place God has put me. I needed it today especially.

Chris said...

This was beautiful. I appreciate the beauty of quilts. We own Rag Coat. It is one of our favorites along with A new coat for Anna. I love the statement, "as we get older we learn to be content in where we are in life" I know this is proved true in my own life.

Leslie said...

My mother-in-law has a wonderful little book that chronicles the evolution of quilting. It is really fascinating to me to learn the significance behind the patterns and pieces.

We (Americans) do not really appreciate dependence. We are encouraged to be independent. I think that may be part of the reason we women do not have the close relationships that women enjoyed in the past. Living in a neighborhood used to mean more than prestige. My mother and grandmother are still best friends with the same women they've been friends with for the last fifty or more years--they have shared life together. Me? Me and most girls my age are too busy chasing life to live it together sometimes.

Great post!!

Jennifer said...

I have to agree with the others. This is great stuff. The application is right on, the writing is great. . . Thanks for taking the time to put this together.